Donetsk fighters from Latvia to face punishment

Latvians volunteering to fight on the behalf of Ukraine's breakaway eastern provinces could find themselves charged with terrorism offenses, Interior Minister Rihards Kozlovskis said Wednesday.

Speaking on LTV's Rita Panorama morning news show, Kozlovskis said changes to existing laws might be made to enable legal action against such individuals.

“If there are Latvian citizens or holders of Latvian residence permits [among volunteers] there should be consequences if they join up,” Kozlovskis said.

However, he said that he did not believe Latvians were on the front lines yet and that security services were “monitoring” the situation.

“Could we say that our people are actively supporting the separatists – no, not yet," Kozlovskis said while noting that individuals linked to the activities of the Non-Citizens' Congress [organization of Latvia's mainly Russian 'non-citizens'] were believed to be taking part in so-called humanitarian missions in support of the breakaway republics.

"They are individuals... At the moment we need not be concerned about a large-scale movement of people,” Kozlovskis said.

His response came after Russian media quoted pro-Russia radical activist Vladimir Linderman saying he had information that “a small number” of volunteers had left Latvia to fight on behalf of the self-proclaimed People's Republic of Donetsk.

In the interview, Kozlovskis also said Latvia's blacklist of Russians not permitted entry to the country for their support of the rebel regions could be further expanded, without giving any names.

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